As the browser wars heat up signs throughout the web show that the pro Firefox crew are becoming less subtle with each passing day.
As far as Apple are concerned it's a pretty good time to get their latest offering out into the Windows world. The somewhat evangelical momentum behind Firefox has definately helped to educate people into realising that there are plenty of Windows based browser alternatives.
I spent a bit of time playing with Safari on Windows Vista today. Visually it's very Mac like - thats to be expected. Ive never been an iTunes user, but if I was then I guess I could be happy that my browser could look like my music player. I like the fade effects on the menus. Again, they're very mac like, but the subtle fading and animation is pleasing to the eye. Also the roll-in effect behind dialogs such as the bug report and add bookmark are quite pretty to look at, even if they feel slightly out of place when running on a windows box.
Speedwise, it feels a bit jerky on Vista - particularly when minimising and maximising the browser. It also seems to have an annoying bug which I can't explain other than by describing it: Maximise Safari, and then minimise it. Restore Safari again by clicking on it in your Taskbar. You should see that it doesn't restore to it's previous maximised state. Not a big deal, but annoying none the less.
Rendering HTML doesn't seem hugely sped up, however that's something which is hard to gauge as it's very much perception based. Every page loads faster when you're sitting behind a Squid cache which removes 90% of all web ads - funnily enough a lot of sites run faster without needing to display 500k flash advertisements all over the place. However it doesn't seem slow, apart from when viewing pages which have a lot of Microsoft AJAX on them (either from the Extensions or the Toolbox), however Firefox takes an incredibly long time to load these as well.
In terms of standards compliance, Safari appears to have full acid2 test compliance which isn't surprising because Konqueror does too - it's about 90% of the same code.
So far, it feels shiny and new, with a few bugs - forgivable for something which is in beta. Only time will tell as to whether it's software that will appeal to many Windows users.
However I think I might have said that about iTunes a few years ago as well.
PS: It also seems to have some compatiability issues with the editor in this blog software, as earlier readers of this post might have noticed!